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The stars were still glittering with a bright, cold
light, but the faint glow of morning had already lit the
eastern sky. The trees gradually emerged from the gloom.
Suddenly, a strong, fresh breeze blew through their tops,
filling the forest with loud, resonant sounds. The century-
old pines called to each other in anxious, hissing whisp-
ers, and the dry powdery snow poured with a soft swish
from their disturbed branches.
The wind dropped as suddenly as it had risen. The
trees again sank into their frozen torpor. And then all
the forest sounds that heralded the dawn broke out: the
hungry snarling of the wolves in the glade near by, the
cautious yelp of foxes, and the first, uncertain taps of
the just awakened woodpecker, sounding so musical in the
still forest that it seemed to be tapping a violin and not
the trunk of a tree.
Again the wind blew through the heavy pine tops in
noisy gusts. The last stars were gently extinguished in the
now brighter sky; and the sky itself seemed to have shrunk
and grown more dense. The forest, shaking off the last
remnants of the gloom of night, stood out in all its
verdant grandeur. From the rosy tint that struck the
curly heads of the pines and the spires of the firs, one
could tell that the sun had risen and that the day prom-
ised to be bright, crisp and frosty.
It was quite light by now. The wolves had retired into
the thick of the forest to digest their nocturnal prey, and
the foxes, too, had left the glade, leaving cunningly
traced, winding tracks on the snow. The ancient forest
rang with a steady, continuous sound. Only the fussing of
the bird, the woodpecker's tapping, the merry chirping of
the yellow tomtits darting from branch to branch, and
the dry, greedy croak of jays introduced some variation